Putting the man in manicure

Today’s Zits reanalyzes the word manicure:

Girls get their nails done at a salon, guys bite theirs.

The man of manicure is the Latin ‘hand’ root (also in manacle, manage, manipulate, manual, manufacture, manuscript, etc.), which has nothing to do with the Germanic noun man. So the usage in the cartoon is a deliberate eggcorn, putting the man in manicure.

The invention also has the effect of playing on gender stereotypes: manicures are associated with women and with “feminized” men: metrosexuals and gay men who are perceived to be feminine (twinks and nelly gays, as opposed to bears, leathermen, and the like; “real men” don’t get manicures.

(On the clippings mani for manicure and pedi for pedicure, see here.)


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